Democratic Leader Gephardt is to be commended for his thoughtful decision to oppose permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status for China at this time. The Leader has a long history of action on China's repressive human rights practices, its occupation of Tibet, its proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and its unfair trade practices.
On the basis of trade alone there is enough reason to oppose PNTR at this time. China has violated every trade agreement it has made with the U.S. over the last ten years. The Chinese government has broken agreements on opening its markets, stopping the piracy of intellectual property and ending the export of slave labor-produced goods. It is already backing away from the 1999 U.S.-China bilateral agreement, on which President Clinton has based his request for PNTR. China's pattern of violating trade agreements behooves the US. Congress to retain its authority for annual review of China's trade record.
It is incumbent upon all of us, in the public and private sectors, to work for free and open trade with China that is real. The U.S.-China bilateral WTO agreement, however, is seriously deficient in substance, implementation and enforcement. This issue is too important for our economy to base it on a pattern of broken promises, not proven performance. China can become a member of the WTO without Congress having to surrender its right to review U.S.-China trade relations annually. There is no reason why Congress should permanently surrender its leverage at this time.
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